‘You’re making people you don’t know your higher power’
Kesha took to the stage at Texas conference SXSW, as part of the ‘Reclaiming the Internet’ programme: here, she discussed facing up to online trolls, struggling with an eating disorder, mental health and what can be expected from her highly-anticipated new music.
The singer began her open conversation with Refinery29’s Amy Emmerich, unpacking what the internet is like for young people today. With stats that show 65 per cent of people online have suffered some kind of abuse, Kesha said: “The internet shouldn’t be a place that makes us feel unsafe.”
“Young people – I feel nervous for them. I got bullied at school, but I got to go home and write songs. They get bullied at school and go home and get bullied online.”
The singer added that in disregarding the bullies, she has since “found an immense amount of strength in my vulnerabilities. It’s empowering to stop pretending to be powerful and just sit in my power of imperfection and emotionally insecure human-ness.”
Kesha has been a dedicated advocate for people who have experienced body-shaming, as well as a passionate ally for the LGBT community.
Instagram was also discussed during the live conversation. The artist related that she thought it was a great platform for getting to know and supporting her fans, but, that it was also quite a negative space. She continued: “I always gravitate toward the one negative (comment). I hold onto that. I internalise it, and I know it’s not healthy. It’s an unhealthy habit to go in and redo something I know is just gonna hurt me. So I stopped reading comments. I think everyone should develop their own healthy relationship with the internet.”
Recently, Kesha spoke in a powerful PSA about eating disorder struggles, and continued the dialogue on the SXSW stage. “It’s a part of my story,” Kesha she said about her past illness. “I’ve suffered from body dysmorphia and eating disorders. I just want people to know that they’re not alone. If you struggle with looking in the mirror and just being OK with yourself, you’re not alone, and there are probably many reasons why that affects you. It’s not a weakness; it’s a disease. I was embarrassed, but now I really wanna talk about it.”
“It can kill you, so if any of you feel a certain way about yourself or your body – I almost died,” she explained. “I came closer than I ever knew. By the time I entered rehab they were surprised I hadn’t had a stroke. I wasn’t consuming enough of anything. I think the only sense I can make of this life is helping other people. Even though it’s hard for me to talk about, I have to. I’m not done. I don’t know if I’ll ever be done.”
The musician has been embroiled in a legal battle with producer Dr Luke to get free from her contract with him, relating to claims of prolonged sexual abuse. “I’ve been working, pretty much every day, all day long, and I can’t wait to give it to you,” she said of her long-awaited release. “I don’t know when. I don’t have a date. I pray to the ocean and the universe and every god out there that it’ll be soon. I have somewhere between 70-80 songs to choose from. Just know that I’ve been diligent to bring it to you.”
She added that she had “a lot to talk about” in the music she said has more of a country influence than her past ventures in dance pop.
Kesha also explained what feminism means to her, stating: “To be a feminist – I think it’s to be myself unabashedly and unapologetically, and to stand for all the things I think are right, and to be all the things I want to be. I can be a sexy, funny, gross, psycho, intelligent, beautiful animal rights activist that pisses in the street.
“I’m a motherfucking woman who can be every single one of those things,” Kesha said. “They’re not mutually exclusive.”